Woonsocket nonprofit says mayor prevented them from hosting Pride Month event

Blackstone Valley

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A Woonsocket nonprofit organization is frustrated with the city’s mayor after she reportedly denied their request to host an event for Pride Month.

Alex Kithes, executive director of Rebuild Woonsocket, tells 12 News they tried to organize a Pride celebration in the city, but were blocked at every turn by Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt.

“The blame as I see it lies very much on the mayor’s office right now,” Kithes said.

Kithes said they initially wanted to host an event at River Island Park, but their permit application was denied due to ongoing construction.

“I tried to then just change my permit to World War II park and the city said ‘no you can’t do that, it’s too late,'” he recalled.

Kithes then attempted to move their event to Market Square.

“We announced that, and then within two days, the mayor goes on the radio and says ‘oh we planned a last-minute car show in Market Square for that day and time,'” he said. “That was the point where there’s been so much obstruction this is a protest now.”

The group marched through the streets Monday evening, chanting “Mayor Lisa has got to go.”

12 News reached out to Baldelli-Hunt’s office for comment but has not yet heard back, however, Woonsocket City Council Vice President John Ward did share a copy of a 2020 resolution which declares June as Pride Month in the city.

That resolution also requested the mayor accommodate a Pride flag raising ceremony annually.

While Kithes said a Pride flag was raised this year in Market Square, it wasn’t done ceremoniously.

“The flag just magically appeared on the wrong flagpole and upside down,” Kithes said.

Rebuild Woonsocket hopes Monday’s protest will result in the city allowing them to host a Pride event next year.

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